A Surprising Answer
Susanne Scheppmann

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,'" declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" Isaiah 55:8-9 (NIV)

I hate you!" she said as the door slammed behind her.

For ten long years I had been praying for the Lord to bring my stepdaughter a Christian friend to speak truth and life to her. Since she was living in another state, my husband and I had little direct contact or influence on her. We longed to raise her in our home.

Now, however, she was sixteen and attending high school. I doubted we would ever have the opportunity for her to live with us. So what could I do? I prayed for a Christian friend to move into her life to introduce her to Jesus Christ.

I prayed. I wrote in my prayer journal of the desires and concerns regarding my stepdaughter. Yet, I saw few positive results. Although familiar with Psalm 139:4, "Before a word is on my tongue you know it completely, O Lord" (NIV), I began to question if God heard my prayers.

Through some unusual events, my stepdaughter came to live with our family! Only she arrived angry and full of rebellion. Little did I know I had just begun one of the most difficult seasons of my adult life. As a blended family adjusting to a new member, we felt we were being pureed in a family-dysfunctional blender. We fought, we cried, and we prayed. I did not believe we would survive. My faith ran low in believing any change could occur. Although my faith faltered, my prayers prevailed.

One night I curled up in bed discouraged and exhausted. Again, the question surfaced, "Lord, do you hear me at all?" I picked up my prayer journal from the nightstand, and thumbed through the pages of the past year. The written record of my prayers pleaded, "Lord, bring her a Christian friend!"

Suddenly, I saw the answer to my prayers. God could use me to be the friend who would point her to God. From that moment on, I worked diligently to win her confidence and trust. Was it easy? No. Did we still struggle with life issues and rebellion? Absolutely! Do I still pray for her? Yes, indeed! I know God hears and answers my prayers, but not always in ways I expect.

The Lord affirms our key verse in my life time and again, "'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the Lord. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" He surprises and challenges me with His answers.

What surprise answers lay within your prayers?

Dear Lord, remind me how You always hear my prayers. Open my eyes to the answers You give in response to my requests. Help me to understand when You answer my prayers in completely different ways than how I expect. Let me accept that Your thoughts and ways are higher than mine. In Jesus' Name, Amen.

Related Resources:
Listen to Today’s Radio Show for more about prayers that move the heart of God

Divine Prayers for Despairing Parents by Susanne Scheppmann

God’s Purpose for Every Woman, Lysa TerKeurst and Rachel Olsen, General Editors

Visit Susanne’s blog

Application Steps:
If you record your prayers in a journal, take 15 minutes to review past prayer requests. Ask yourself, Has God answered any of these prayers, and have I overlooked His obvious answer?

Or begin today to record your prayer requests in a notebook or prayer journal such as Intimacy with God: Prayer Journal. Jot down the date and the request and allow room for notes on how God answers your prayers in the future.

Reflections: Do I believe God hears my prayers?

Do I dictate to God how He should answer my prayers?

How has God surprised me with an answer different than the one I expected?

Do I acknowledge that His ways are higher than my ways when I pray?

Power Verses: Psalm 91:15, "He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him." (NIV)

Isaiah 58:9a, "Then you will call, and the Lord will answer; you will cry for help, and he will say: Here am I." (NIV)

Psalm 34:17, "The righteous cry out, and the Lord hears them; he delivers them from all their troubles." (NIV)

Excerpted from God's Purpose for Every Woman

© 2009 by Susanne Scheppmann. All rights reserved.

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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I so needed to hear this today! God answered a prayer for me yesterday that was not as I expected. I had even begun to think He had "other" things in mind. Thank you for sharing this. You really need to be reminded sometimes that "His ways are not our ways".

Anonymous Anonymous said...

i wonder everytime i pray if god hears me. my prayers aren't as good as other peoples and i always feel inadaquite in mine. but he has given me a friend who prays with a grace and style that i wish i had and she will always say a prayer for me so i know he's there but i just don' feel it.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

1st Anonymous...
God is always there to hear your prayers. He accepts you for who you are! It doesn't matter what your prayers sound like. Just have faith that he will answer them in his time. He loves you and he will make himself known to you. Keep praying, he delights in the fact that you look to him in prayer. He wants us to have faith like a child. I don't know if you've ever heard a child pray, but they are sometimes so incredibly simple, but God loves that. We don't have to be a certain way for him to be please with us. Believe in him and be satisfied! :)

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a friend that is having a diffculty with her stepchild. It is not exactly the same of course, but this was really encouraging to be able to read and send to her for support. Thank you!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Iv'e been praying for God to heal a friendship that I have/had, It always seems this "friend" is throwing me under the bus leaving me to wonder if they believe this way of treating people is ok in Gods eyes,this has been going on for over a year and it never gets resolved, I only get more depressed, and overwhelmed over the way I'm being treated,I Know God is hearing my prayers for this person,but I ask myself why is this going on,and I don't have the answers so I placed my trust in him --- totally! I know he has a reason and a solution for this situation but thru my human eyes I can't see it.
Praise God above all things! AMEN

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I been praying for my husband, we just recently got married after only courting for a real short period, I admitt I was not using wisdom, when I made the decision to marry him after only a month. Well this was my first marriage and I knew it wouldn't be easy, but since we were both believers in GOD, I figured it would be okay. Once we got married he changed from the person he was while we were courting and I became misreble a little bit, but I was determined to make it work so I prayed and asked GOD to hel me make this marriage work, and then I asked GOD for HIS perfect will for our marriage. I went out and bought books on how to be a Godly wife and things just seemed to get worse, I cried out to GOD for help and started feeling like mabey I made a mistake by jumping so fast into this marriage. Well Easter weekend my husband left to go back to his hometown to take care of some business and also see his kids. He actually left on thursday and I talked to him on saturday, I am praying for us the whole time he is gone. I didn't hear from him for 2 days, so I really began to pray for him and me and our marriage. He called me this tuesday to say that he made a mistake and that he was sorry, but he can't do this marriage, I was devastated cause I was determined to stick it out and make this work no matter what, and I was asking GOD for help, and this was the answer I got. I am broken and hurt and embarrassed but like some of my dear friends are saying this is GOD'S WAY OF PROTECTING YOU FROM SOMETHING THAT WOULD OF HURT YOU REALLY BAD. I understand that but this was my first marriage and I am hurt and feeling really low right now, I have some issues and need alot of healing that only GOD can do!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'd like to respond to the woman who was praying to God concerning her marriage. You mentioned that you felt that you had made a mistake because you married your husband after dating for one month. God considers you a "good thing". The scripture tells us that "He that findeth a wife, findeth a good thing". Thank God that he loved you enough not to leave you in a bad situation. There are many women who are married and lonely; married and looking for way out. God is aware of the past, present & future. He didn't leave you in a marriage that in his eyes was not in his plan for you. Honey, by no means are you Damaged Goods. You are woman of purpose. You are a treasure in the eyes of the Lord. REMEMBER you prayed and asked God for his help and, this was his answer. I applaude your husband for acknowledging that he had made a mistake. I believe while you were praying God was doing something awesome on your behalf. It is hard to see when our eyes are clouded with tears and disappointment, but God is FAITHFUL. Marriage is very serious and God considers you to be a precious gem. Let God love on you and heal your heart. In his timing he will send someone to you just for you. Be encouraged.

Anonymous Andrea said...

I really appreciated your devotion today. I just had the opportunity to read it, and realized I should have read it earlier today. I spent much of the day in tears over something I have spent many years in prayer about. I was tired and frustrated over yet another illness that my disabled child was dealing with. I, like many of the other commenter's today began to question once again whether God was truly in control. I know He is, but sometimes I want to hear very loud answers. My friend encouraged me to pray and read my bible. I quickly assured her that this was no time for whispers to my heart. I needed action.

Wrong again, I just need to know He understands and is there with me. His ways are higher, even if I can't understand. Today, your words reminded me of that. Thank you.

Anonymous Anonymous said...

If you are not keeping a prayer/study note journal, I really do suggest you consider it. I just went through some things in my life and was asking "why", and yesterday began reading through the past year of notes and prayers and was instantly comforted that my Father in heaven was preparing me for this season of life. May God continue to bless us women who faithfully seek Him. He is AWESOME!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Many times if I talked to myself or listened to my thoughts before I started on my devotion readings - I would be reading text or verses that were related to my train of thoughts. It was so real that I can't deny His existence & His watching over me. But I am beginning to feel exhausted after 30 over yrs of praying, situations are still the same & sometimes worst especially when I prayed to perserve, to press on with hope & to be delivered from temptations to err. The more I pray the more set-back I face. Am I imagining that God really watches over me & hears me? I have been encouraged many times when I read His words, prayed, listened to worship songs & when I read books. But exhausted by now with more downs than ups especially when others testified of answered prayers without encountering heartaches. Yet I feel the prompting to continue hoping, praying and trusting Him. "Trust in the Lord with all hearts & dont rely on your own understandings..." - I pray God help me to press on with faith that You are in control Amen!

Anonymous Anonymous said...

today i was looking for some devotion which would touch me in my situation and i find this one really touching.I agree with you God always answers our prayers but not always in the way expect.But am struggling with my prayers not answered. why this happens ..some people gets answers instantly when they pray but for some not.God only knows how faithful to Him from my childhood.
please help me....

Anonymous Anonymous said...

It is so funny how God works. I have been dealing with the whole stepdaughter issue right now myself and I have really been thinking that God isn't hearing my prayers so much so that I even gave up praying about it.The funniest part is that although I woke up late for work this morning I still managed to make it here early. I decided to do my devotions now instead of breaktime and stumbled across this one. That's proof enough to me that he is listening. Thanks so much for the encouragement.

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